About Marc Marshall

Marc received a B.A. degree in Physics from Humboldt State University in 2000. His primary responsibility at SERC is the software design, data acquisition hardware integration, implementation, and testing of LabVIEW-based control systems. Projects Marc has worked on include embedded control of the Methanol-fired Fuel Cell system and version 4 of SERC’s internal Test Station Software. Marc also serves as the SERC IT person, maintaining the office computers, local network, and server. Marc has worked at the Schatz Lab since 1997, when he started as a student assistant.

SERC Completes Instrumentation of RFT Torrefier

torrefier photo

The newly-installed air-measurement devices.

In September, Greg Chapman and I made our second trip to Renewable Fuel Technologies (RFT) to continue work on measuring the energy and mass balances of RFT’s pilot-scale torrefier. The one-ton-per-day torrefier produces a charcoal-like product called bio-coal from wood waste by heating biomass to 300°C in the absence of air. The bio-coal can then be co-fired in a power plant with standard fuels such as coal or wood chips to generate renewable electricity. SERC’s measurements of the device will aid in designing the torrefier for mobile, stand-alone operation and optimizing the technology for commercial use in converting timber waste into very low carbon renewable energy. This work is funded by the California Energy Commission.


The newly-installed torrgas sample condenser.

During this visit, we installed new instrumentation on the pilot-scale torrefier to measure power, air and gas flows.  Greg also designed, built, and installed a condenser to sample the condensable portion of the gas by-product of the torrefaction process, called torrgas, which is used to generate heat as a key part of RFT’s efficient design.  An initial test run of the system using the new instrumentation was successful, and planning is now underway to procure and transport several tons of wood chips to RFT, which will be used in a series of torrefaction experiments under varying conditions to collect detailed data on the operating characteristics of the system.